Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Angeles National Forest south of Mt. Baldy. From the 210 Freeway, take the Baseline Road exit and go west for 0.7 miles. Take a right (north) onto Mills, go 1.1 miles and bear right onto Mt. Baldy Road. Go 8 miles and take a hard left on Glendora Ridge Road (right before Mt. Baldy Village) and drive a mile to Cow Canyon Saddle and park at the side of the road. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel River Ranger District
- Distance: 5.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: All year, depending on conditions
- USGS topo maps: “Mt. Baldy”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 7
Sunset Peak is a popular summit south of Baldy and Lookout Mountain. For people in reasonably good shape, virtually no wilderness experience is required, as the summit can be reached by a well-graded fire road (a total distance of 3.5 miles for a round trip of 7). The route described here cuts out some of the road, which may become a little monotonous for veteran hikers, instead taking a steep fire break for the last half mile or so. (There is a fire break that runs all the way from the trail head, gaining the whole 1,300 feet in only1.6 miles, so if you want a challenge, try it that way). The trail primarily ascends a north-facing slope, and with a lot of shade, it can be doable even on hot days (I did it on a day when L.A. set a record for heat), especially with an early start. During the winter, it’s likely to get some snow, but usually not enough to require any kind of technical climbing.
From Cow Saddle, look for the fire road that heads southwest, ascending parallel to Glendora Ridge Road. As you climb, you get great views of Baldy, Lookout Mountain and the western peaks of th Angeles National Forest, including Mt. Wilson and San Gabriel Peak. The vegetation, includes black oaks and pines.
At 1.9 miles, the road makes a sharp turn to the left and begins climbing to the east. After 0.6 more miles there’s another hairpin turn, and the fire break becomes visible to the left. If it looks intimidating, continue on the road, which will reach the summit in another mile. The fire break ascends steeply, and requires some bouldering toward the end (be careful!) but the route should be pretty self-explanitory, and in less than half a mile, it rejoins the fire road for the last few steps to the top.
On the 5,771 foot summit, the view includes Baldy and Lookout Mountain to the north; the lower San Gabriel summits to the west, Old Saddleback to the south (and the ocean if the air is clear), and the Ontario/Cucamonga Ridge to the east. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to see Mt. San Jacinto. Also on the summit are the remains of the tower that was transported from Lookout Mountain. THAT must have been fun to do.